OLIVA, Joan (fl.1570-1614?) [Portolan Chart of the Mediterranean]. Livorno: c.1610 signed Joannis Oliva fecit in civitate Liburni Ano 16[10?]
Manuscript portolan chart, ink and colours on vellum, 530 x 920mm. The chart extending from Britain to the Red Sea, from the Azores to the Black sea, taking in the coastlines of Northern Europe, Atlantic coasts of Northern Europe, and Morocco and the Mediterranean shores, coastlines drawn in brown ink, principal rivers marked, coastal names in red and black, in a small neat hand, continents in banner cartouches, 2 scale bars. The chart is decorated with 14 elaborate compass roses, placed around Northern Europe, the Atlantic and North Africa, Latitudinal graticule at neck with figure of Christ on the cross, the whole chart with double-rule border and rhumb-lines. (Old pin holes to the extremities of the chart, the vellum cockled with several clean tears to margins, colours faded and washed due to old water damage.)
An interesting Catalan portolan chart of the Mediterranean by a member of the foremost chart making families. Joan [Juan] Oliva was a leading member of the Olives family, prestigious chart makers in the early part of 16th century in Majorca, from whence various members of the family spread to Messina, Naples, Livorno and Marseilles. Joan Oliva is one of the most prolific makers of the second generation, and appears to have worked in Messina, Marseilles and Livorno, perhaps travelling to these various cities to sell his charts and atlases to traders and nobleman. This chart is clearly signed in Latin but the date is obscured and appears to be circa 1610. It is a good example of a working portolan chart, attractive but not finely illuminated in gold, and was probably bought for navigational use particularly since it has been pinned to a board. There are no signs of notes or annotations, but the water staining and bleaching of colour may be due to sun and salt exposure.
Nordenskiold noted 10 charts, the British Library has an atlas (Egerton collection), and a further 3 atlases and one chart were exhibited in Barcelona in 1995. This chart shows close similarities with the example exhibited in Barcelona No 44, a Mediterranean portolan of 1620 similarly inscribed, cf. Portolans procedents de col-leccions espanyoles Segles XV-XVII Barcelona, 1995.